Two Sisters by Sarah Davachi is a collection of extended compositions for chamber ensemble and solo pipe organ including carillon (a keyboard instrument comprised of very large cast-iron bells), choir, string quartet, low woodwinds, and trombone quartet, alongside sine tones and electronic drones.
The Canadian-born and Los Angeles-based composer has prowess in both analog and digital mediums, and has centered her practice around the push and play between the two. A dazzling performer and arranger whether behind a pipe organ or a paired down synth setup, Davachi has written wondrous music largely edited down from hours of home recording. Her records are largely about the art of making, whatever instruments at her disposal often inform the intent before she shapes them into tangible statements of purpose. They also are largely about Davachi as a musician: Recurring motifs and approaches appear across her body of work. While some of that comes naturally to modern classical music, it's clear that there is intention behind these moves. Her latest LP entitled Two Sisters continues this practice to great effect.
Sarah Davachi is an artist that understands the power of conceptual thinking. The title is borrowed from dialogue in the 1981 film Possession in which Isabelle Adjani’s character describes her psychological state as being a battle between “two sisters of faith and chance.” The events and themes of Possession are governed by a similar binary. While not directly inspired by the content of the film itself, Davachi applies a like-minded intention in two fold with the instrumentation and sequencing. The album starts and ends with nearly identical bell phrasing, while the tracks between the bookends deal with mirrored organ, string and chamber pieces. While undoubtedly meant to be referential to the film, these sonic ideals are also a reflection of Sarah Davachi’s natural and intensive progression as a musician.
Far from a concept album in the traditional sense, Two Sisters is instead another demarcation of her continued mastery of composition, albeit one intertwined with a movie that speaks a kindred language.